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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Hawks, Eagles, and Falcons of North Dakota

JPG -- Picture of Species

Prairie Falcon
Falco mexicanus

The prairie falcon is a wide-ranging inhabitant of native prairie and cropland that includes badlands, cliffs, and isolated buttes in western North Dakota. Most nesting pairs of prairie falcons are found west of the Missouri River and concentrated along the Little Missouri River Valley and adjoining prairie. The prairie falcon can be seen in North Dakota from March until October.

The prairie falcon is more lightly built than the peregrine falcon, but almost equally rapid in flight. Its usual method of hunting is to fly at a moderate elevation, 50 to 300 feet, and descend in a long, slanting, stoop on potential prey. The prairie falcon feeds extensively on small mammals such as prairie dogs and young rabbits, but it is highly capable of catching most birds in flight.

Prairie falcons prefer ledges of cliffs with small holes, caves, or crevices to nest. Nests consist of a slight scrape made in loose dirt, but prairie falcons commonly lay their eggs in an old nest of another bird. The female lays 4 to 5 eggs and incubation is done mainly by the female which lasts 29-31 days. Young falcons take to flight in about 40 days.

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